Jan 10, 2011
The Normalcy Bias and Bible Prophecy
I've been in the business of warning people about the end times for several decades now. One of the hardest tasks is convincing people that danger is coming their way. They have fallen prey to what is commonly called the normalcy bias.
The normalcy bias occurs when people underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations in which people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster and, on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a catastrophe never has occurred, it never will. People judge their future according to how things have been in the past.
One of the most tragic examples of the normalcy bias is the experience of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Barton Biggs, in his book, Wealth, War, and Wisdom, gave a very good description of what happened:
By the end of 1935, 100,000 Jews had left Germany, but 450,000 [remained]. Wealthy Jewish families...kept thinking and hoping that the worst was over.
Many of the German Jews, brilliant, cultured, and cosmopolitan as they were, were too complacent. They had been in Germany so long and were so well established, they simply couldn't believe there was going to be a crisis that would endanger them. They were too comfortable. They believed the Nazis' anti-Semitism was an episodic event and that Hitler's bark was worse than his bite. [They] reacted sluggishly to the rise of Hitler for completely understandable but tragically erroneous reasons. Events moved much faster than they could imagine.
We saw the same type of calamity occur with Hurricane Katrina. Even as it became obvious that the levee system was collapsing, thousands of people stayed in their homes, directly in the line of the oncoming waves of water. The residence of New Orleans had never seen a levee failure, so they simply didn't believe it could happen. As a result, nearly 2,000 of them dead died in the flood.
The recent housing crisis was largely triggered by a normalcy bias. Since housing prices had never declined on a national scale for more than a few months, everyone felt safe about buying a home. Even though home prices had tripled in some markets, people still believed that housing prices would only move higher.
This same mindset is playing out in our national debt. Despite the facts that spending is out of control and debt is at levels that have always led to bankruptcy, there is only mild concern from investors. They have only known bonds to be 100 percent safe--and unlike stocks, they always retain their face value.
The normalcy bias has a strong relationship to Bible prophecy. Because we've never had famine, nuclear emergencies, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions on a global scale, people assume these disasters will never happen. Most of the same people believe that there is a God, yet they refuse to believe the dire predictions made by Him.
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Situational awareness is the complete opposite of the normalcy bias. It involves having a full perception of your environment and a comprehension of what may transpire in the near future. Because other people may seek to provide you with false information, situational awareness requires you to be the guardian of your own life. Because we only have limited control over our fate, disaster can still strike from a thousand directions. The fault rests with us when we see danger coming and do nothing to get out of its way.
Humanity is facing a test right now that requires keen situational awareness. All the signs of the last days are coming together, and it’s important for everyone to know Jesus as the only One who can redeem them from the days to come.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
Scanning a Fearful Future: Part 8
Planet earth is on the brink of what both Glenn Beck and Hal Lindsey have stated they believe will be monetary and societal collapse of unprecedented magnitude. We also looked previously at a prophetic declaration by the Creator of all things, which is--I believe I can verify--about the generation that will be alive at the very end of the age.
Specifically, Jesus’ prophecy refers to one catastrophic moment in this present dispensation–the Church Age (Age of Grace)--when all of this world system will come crashing down.
Again, here’s the prophecy from Christ himself:
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)
Are the two cataclysms–the one Beck and Lindsey talk about on their TV programs and the one Jesus foretells--related to each other? If so, how?
We will now try to answer the questions about world collapse, whether persecution for American Christians is imminent, and how it might all be tied together prophetically. We will do so by looking in-depth at the details wrapped up in Jesus’ forecast for earth’s near future.
Jesus gave what I am convinced is the premiere end-of-the-Church-Age prophecy in Luke 17:26-30. He describes in considerable detail world conditions and activities at the moment He breaks in on things of this present age.
He tells in His prophecy just the opposite of what Glenn Beck says is on the brink of happening to the people of America and the world. That is, the Lord’s description of how the worldwide catastrophe will happen differs greatly from the Fox host’s prediction of the cause of the calamity he says is just around the corner.
Remember, Mr. Beck is predicting for the near future the direst of socioeconomic collapses. He recommends that we prepare for, quite likely, hyper-inflated times to come, at the very least. He indicates that he fears that from the collapse will spin draconian governmental measures to quell the rioting that will occur when those millions who are given government hand-outs no longer receive the largess. There is more than enough evidence of unchecked government today to prove Beck’s fears are well founded.
The phenomenal growth of federal intrusion into practically every facet of the citizen’s life today portends grave consequences for liberty in the months and years just ahead. For example, bureaucratic regulation such as the move of the unelected FCC apparatchiks to invoke “net neutrality”–a Big Brother-like regulatory process that could eventuate in establishing dictatorial power over Internet usage--threatens anyone who would express opinions that run counter to state-approved language. The current administration intends to implement this despite the fact that a federal appeals court has ruled the administration doesn’t have the authority to do so.
Hal Lindsey sees the same cataclysm approaching, basically for the same reasons. He also recommends that we prepare for possible food shortages, and he says he believes Christians in this country will face severe persecution, which I infer to mean persecution of the sort suffered by martyrs for the cause of Christ.
I must add here that I agree with both of these gentlemen–to some degree. And I disagree, also, with both--for differing reasons. But I reserve my thoughts in that regard for the biblically based logic I hope will make itself manifest as I analyze the words of the greatest of all prophets.
We now are basically familiar with what Glenn Beck and Hal Lindsey say about the two questions involving the probability of American and world socioeconomic collapse and, in Lindsey’s case, about Christians in America facing imminent, severe persecution.
Let’s dissect carefully what Jesus predicts for the times just ahead. I say with confidence that Jesus tells the future from this moment forward, based upon what I’m convinced His words are speaking to this generation at this very hour. He prophesied in the Luke 17:26-30 passages that in the “days” He, the “Son of man,” is about to break into earth’s history, mankind will be doing certain things. It will be a time like the days of Noah before the Flood and the days of Lot while he was still in Sodom.
People, the Lord said, will be eating, drinking, marrying, building, buying, selling, and planting. Things will be going along pretty much as normal for the time. The Lord indicates no catastrophic, worldwide socioeconomic breakdown of any sort in this time immediately before “the Son of man is revealed” (Luke17:30)–the time He breaks into human history.
This time cannot be the Second Advent of Revelation 19:11. At the time the Lord of Lords and King of Kings breaks through the planetary darkness of death and destruction at Armageddon, perhaps as many as three-fourths of all people on earth will have died as a result of wars, pestilence, and geophysical disasters brought about by God’s judgment and wrath upon an incorrigibly wicked, unrepentant world of earth-dwellers.
In other words, planet earth’s living conditions at the time of Christ’s return in power and glory at Armageddon will not be anything like living conditions at the time of His intervention into human affairs as He describes in the days of Noah, days of Lot prophecy. At the end of the seven-year Tribulation period, it will be anything but business as usual. It will truly be hell on earth when Jesus comes to destroy all human government and the soul-rending carnage it has produced.
So, Jesus, in the Luke 17 account, was foretelling the days leading up to the time when He calls His church to Himself–"His church" meaning all born-again believers who have lived and died during the Church Age (Age of Grace). This is known as the Rapture. To learn more about this stupendous event, read 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, John 14:1-3, and Revelation 4:1-2.
To repeat, Jesus was not describing His coming back to earth in the Luke 17:26-30 prophecy. He was telling about His coming to above the planet to receive His people–Christians—to Himself. Christians–the Church—then will accompany Him back to the heavenly places He has prepared for them in the Father’s house–heaven.
Again, we have reached the limits of our space for this commentary. We will next further examine Jesus’ telling us about–I’m convinced—this very hour in which you and I inhabit planet earth.